New School Year
I know that August and the new school year seems a long way off. However, it will soon come around – the summer holiday never lasts as long as it seemed to when we were young!
There are a number of important pieces of information in this update so I would please ask you read it now so that, if you need to, you have plenty of time to get things organised for the new school year.
Uniform is an integral and important part of our school identity at Firrhill. Besides the practical aspects of identification and safety it acts as a clear statement of belonging to a bigger group with shared standards and values. In simple terms wearing school uniform states clearly that ‘I am here to work’.
We have been deliberately relaxed regarding uniform rules during this period of school opening but with significant mitigations still in place. At our urging most pupils have returned to wearing full normal uniform. A small, but persistent number have not.
This leeway regarding uniform will end with the start of the new term. We expect every pupil to be in full school uniform from the start of the new term. Our uniform is deliberately simple, black and white, with all items except the school tie available from a wide range of suppliers. There is plenty of time to stock up on those items that need replaced but please do not leave it to the last minute to get those essential items just in case they are not available.
If you need a reminder of the uniform standards you can find them on our website at
There are grants available for school clothing and you can find more information at https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/food-clothing/free-school-meals-school-clothing-grants
From the start of the new term where pupils arrive at school not in uniform we will contact home and the pupil may be asked to return home and change. If an unexpected situation arises where your child cannot come to school in full uniform please provide them with a note to explain the situation. Clearly, we would expect this to be a rare occurrence.
Following the announcement from the Scottish Government on Tuesday of the likely lifting of most covid-related restrictions on August 9th we are expecting the return to school to be much more like normal than this year.
However, it is important to emphasise that no detailed guidance has yet been issued to schools regarding the return in August so, for now, we need to assume that certain restrictions will continue.
For example, face coverings may still be required – at least at the very start of term – so please be sure to still have some available, just in case. I expect that guidance will be issued during the holidays so please keep an eye on your inbox for emails from the school during the holiday. I am anticipating that we will need to update you on what is happening but I have my fingers crossed that this update will be to signal a return to pretty much normality.
Lateral Flow Testing
It seems likely that Lateral Flow Testing will continue in the new term. The testing remains voluntary but is an important part of the mitigations we have in place. Your children do not need to continue doing tests during most of the summer holiday but should restart in the final week before school starts. I would suggest the first test on Wednesday 11th August, then on the Saturday or Sunday following and then on the morning of Wednesday August 18th before leaving for school – remember to get up early enough to allow the test to be completed before leaving the house.If you run out of testing kits you can order them online or collect them from a testing centre. There is more information at https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-gettingtested/pages/no-covid-symptoms/ Please do not come to the school during the holiday to get more testing kits. We will not be able to issue any to you. When pupils return to school in August they can collect kits as they do now – assuming the testing process is still happening.
It has been brought to our attention that some parents are receiving incorrect information regarding whether their child can book a PCR test if they have been identified as close-contact of a positive case. In Scotland, they can and should book a PCR test. If you are having difficulty booking such a test over the phone you can book a test using the UK Government website https://www.gov.uk/getcoronavirus-test and when you are asked “Why are you asking for a test”: answer “I’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive for coronavirus” and “I found out in another way that I’m a contact (England, Wales and Scotland only)”.
The School Day
Assuming that the current mitigations can end we would anticipate returning to the normal start arrangements every day. School would start at 0835 with a 10-minute registration period every day and all pupils would arrive at the same time. We would have a single morning break and a single lunch break for all pupils. Dismissal would be at 1535 Monday to Thursday and 1220 on a Friday for all pupils.
The exact arrangements for August will be confirmed when we can but I thought it would be worth reminding everyone of the arrangements that we last operated back in March 2020.
Following our consultation with families and with staff we will continue the two-week timetable next year with the structure that we have been running since August 2020. Of those who expressed a preference there was a large majority in favour of the two-week timetable approach. Continuation with the 2-week approach will have little impact on parents but the greater number of doubleperiod lessons particularly for younger years has proven both popular and helpful for learning.
New Term – First Day
The first day for pupils will be Wednesday August 18th. The arrangements for each year group are as follows:
S1 pupils will start at 0835 and you should arrive at school no later than 0825. Staff will be on hand to direct you to where you need to go. Timetables and other important information will be given to pupils at the start of the morning.
S6 pupils who are participating in leadership training (S6 pupils have already been told if they are involved) start at 0835 and should arrive at school no later than 0825.
All other pupils (S2-5 and those S6 not involved in the leadership training) start at 1040 and should arrive at school no later than 1035. Please do not come to school before 1025.
The school operates a cashless catering system using ParentPay. It normally takes a couple of days to get ParentPay accounts up and running and for PIN numbers to be issued to S1 pupils. We would ask that S1 pupils bring a packed lunch for Wednesday and Thursday of the first week of term. By Monday 23rd August ParentPay accounts and PIN numbers should all be in place and pupils can purchase lunches. Pupils who receive Free School meals will be provided with a lunch on the Wednesday and Thursday. From Monday they would use their PIN number to get their lunch.
Let me finish by saying how great it is to (mostly) be addressing the nuts and bolts of our return to school and not a long list of covid-related issues. We are not out of the woods yet but many of the signs around the impact of the vaccine are looking good right now. Let us all hope that the trajectory of improvements continue and that August will see a near-normal start to the term.
More information will come to you as and when we can get it to you so keep checking your inbox and the school website www.firrhillhigh.org for updates.
Enjoy the summer, stay safe and I look forward to welcoming your children back to Firrhill (or for the first time) on August 18th.